Two states are expected to decide on whether to grant gay couples the right to marry before the end of the year, but gay marriage proponents are thoroughly sanguine about the District of Columbia, where passage of Council member David Catania's gay marriage bill is expected to win approval on December 1.

Enthusiasm for gay marriage appears to be on the wane in New York and New Jersey after Mainers repealed a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the spring. Numerous New Jersey Democratic senators have expressed concern that now is not the time, while the New York Senate continues to delay action on a bill.

But the political consensus driving gay marriage in the District endures despite numerous attacks. City leaders have remained united on the bill, which is expected to win approval along a 10 to 2 vote at Tuesday's meeting.

Few roadblocks to passage remain. The District is under the control of Congress, which could overturn the law, but action appears unlikely. Congress remained silent after lawmakers approved a gay marriage-recognition law in the spring and promised to legalize gay marriage.

Still, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, has said it would apply pressure on Capitol Hill to move against the bill. However, Brian Brown, executive director of NOM, conceded to the Washington Post, “It's a difficult thing for Congress to actually overturn a law in the District.”

Passage of the first law, which recognizes the marriages of gay couples so long as they are willing to marry in one of the nearby states that recognize gay marriage, attracted a heated protest that has yet to abate.

Bishop Harry Jackson, a minister at the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, formed to stop the gay marriage-recognition law from taking effect. The group was rebuffed by the city's Ethics Board, which ruled such a measure would violate the city's Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The group is currently appealing a second Ethics Board ruling against placing a referendum on gay marriage on the ballot.

The proposal is also opposed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. While the bill would not require religious organizations to perform gay weddings, the church has threatened to shut off programs serving the poor and homeless if the city does not include an exclusion that would allow individuals, including private business owners, to refuse to provide goods and services related to the nuptials of gay couples. Gay activists accused the church of trying to “blackmail the city.”

Such tactics, however, have failed to derail the bill. And they might have helped rebuild momentum in New Jersey and New York, where lawmakers remain spooked over November's loss in Maine, by increasing the profile of Tuesday's vote.